By Jung Young Moon
Translated by Yewon Jung
A literary meandering into the mythology of place and what a novel can be, inspired by the author’s time spent at an artist residency in small-town Texas.
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
In his inimitable, recursive, meditative style that reads like a comedic zen koan but contains universes, Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River recounts Korean cult writer's Jung Young Moon’s time spent at an artist’s and writers residency in small-town Texas. In an attempt to understand what a “true Texan should know,” the author reflects on his outsider experiences in this most unique of places, learning to two-step, musing on cowboy hats and cowboy churches, blending his observations with a meditative rumination on the history of Texas and the events that shaped the state, from the first settlers to Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald. All the while, the author is asking what a novel is and must be, while accompanied by a fictional cast of seven samurai who the author invents and carries with him, silent companions in a pantomime of existential theater. Jung blends fact with imagination, humor with reflection, and meaning with meaninglessness, as his meanderings become an absorbing, engaging, quintessential novel of ideas.
Jung Young Moon was born in Hamyang, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, in 1965. He graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in psychology. He made his literary début in 1996 with the novel A Man Who Barely Exists. Jung is also an accomplished translator who has translated more than forty books from English into Korean, including works by John Fowles, Raymond Carver, and Germaine Greer. In 1999 he won the 12th Dongseo Literary Award with his collection of short stories, A Chain of Dark Tales. In 2005 Jung was invited to participate in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and in 2010 the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Korean Study invited him to participate in a three-month-long residency program. In 2012, he won the Han Moo-suk Literary Award, the Dong-in Literary Award, and the Daesan Literary Award for his novel A Contrived World. Deep Vellum published his novel, Vaseline Buddha, in 2016.
Jung Yewon was born in Seoul, and moved to the US at the age of 12. She received a BA in English from Brigham Young University and an MA from the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Featured as a “Book of Note” by Athenaeum Review at The University of Texas at Dallas! (June 2020)
“Who better than a Texas-based publisher of fiction in translation to champion an unusual work by a Korean writer, set in the Lone Star state? No-one, that’s who.” —Tony Malone
“Dispassionate, subversive, ambiguous, utterly cuckoo at times, Jung Young Moon has written a short masterwork of contemporary digression, a far distant cousin to Tristram Shandy (1759); but also a novel that acts as an antidote to our age of distraction because it takes real presence to follow the narrator’s mind, a mind that is looking to challenge the notions of fiction — to create fiction that one might hesitate to call fiction.” —Splice Magazine
“Impressive fluidity… Like a lucid dream.” —Foreword Reviews
“An oddly entertaining stream of consciousness that flows out over the thirsty Lone Star State.” —Kirkus Reviews
“There are many novels by Western authors sojourning in Asia. Stories that go the other way around are as rare as hens’ teeth… Seven Samurai Swept Away in a River opens a window into a non-traditional narrative prose style.” —Asian Review of Books
“It is a slim and beautiful volume. That’s important for this particular book because this is… a piece of art. This is something that you want to hold dear and treasure.” —Read the World, Derek Maine
Praise for Vaseline Buddha:
“Reading Vaseline Buddha feels like watching a magician who explains his trick as he performs it and yet still mesmerizes you with his sleight of hand. You simultaneously enter the dream and wake from it…This resistance underpinning the entire exercise makes Jung an heir to Polish novelist Witold Gombrowicz, who understood that writing is the documentation of a dance the writer does between form and chaos.” —Tyler Malone, Los Angeles Times
“Ridiculous in the best way.” —D Magazine, Zac Crain